Redirecting a website is like moving to a new home. Instead of telling the post office where you have moved, you are telling the search engines.To do this the best option is to use a 301 redirect. But will the 301 hurt your SEO or your search rankings?
But it shouldn’t be this way.
SEO agencies, enterprise level companies, SEO experts, and registrars such as GoDaddy have all made huge mistakes when doing a 301 redirect, costing clients dearly.
301 Redirection gone wrong
- That’s a nice 302 redirect you have there. In 2015 a prominent real estate agent reached out to me. Their website provider, which I will be nice and not mention here, completely sucked. They move this broker’s website without doing a 301. Later, after the site’s traffic tanked and all important rankings were lost, they asked me to look into it. I informed them how to do a 301, along with written directions on how to properly do a 301. Afterwards, the used domain forwarding at GoDaddy. AGAIN, not a 301. I also wrote the article why GoDaddy Domain Forwarding is NOT a 301. The broker was given a 302. None of their important links were followed through to the new site and their website was forever crushed last time I checked.
- Domain Forwarding Fail. For the same reasons I just listed above. Yes, I know the tech support told you that your “domain forwarding” button does the same thing as a 301. Keep in mind they make $1.75 per hour.
- URLs not pointing where they need to go. When changing content management systems, such as going from an older, obsolete platform to WordPress, URLs change. In this case a 301 alone will not do, as you are going from example.com/example.html to example.com/example.
Does 100% of the link juice flow through to the new domain?
Maybe. The consensus in the SEO world is that “some” of the link value is lost. But, I never trust anyone in SEO until I’ve tried it myself.
I am currently observing a website which was redirected in a very competitive niche in Los Angeles. The “SEO Expert” working on the site is highly incompetent. It will be very interesting to see if the site being redirected succeeds or fails. Currently the site has gone from page 1 to page 14 in one afternoon.
I’ve redirected plenty of sites in the past and they never skipped a beat, but this will be a solid test.
Time will tell. I will update this article ASAP (mid January 2017).
If a 301 redirect has gone wrong for you, you need to act immediately. As in, yesterday. If too much time passes and Google can’t relocate the new location of your content, any and all SEO value will be permanently lost.
Update 1/6/2017 – Test Conclusion!
The 301 redirect I had been monitoring went through without a hitch. All rankings were lost for a week or two and then returned in this highly competitive niche. While there is no great way to scientifically measure this change, as the results in this niche change almost daily, the rankings did return to almost the exact same spot in search. I do believe 301s, when all URLs are transferred properly, work and retain 100% of their “SEO value”. It is definitely NOT 60, 70, 80, or 90% like many in the SEO industry suggest.